In a spirited show of bipartisanship, Assemblymember William Colton (D-Brooklyn) has joined forces with his colleagues from across the aisle in the New York State Assembly in calling upon the Governor to permanently eliminate New York State sales taxes on clothing priced under $110.
In 1997, the New York State Assembly passed legislation exempting all clothing costing less than $110 from state sales taxes, which took effect on March 1, 2000. However, in 2002, as a result of the tragedy of 9/11 and the enormous impact it had upon New York’s economy, the Governor along with the Legislature modified the law and created two separate state sales tax-free weeks. The modification was based upon a crucial condition that it would sunset for good in June 2005.
"Unfortunately, in unveiling his executive budget, the Governor plans to rescind the sunset provision and wishes to keep in place state sales taxes on clothing priced under $110 for 50 weeks of every year," said Assemblymember Colton. "The governor insists that our economy is improving and it has turned the corner so let’s eliminate this regressive tax permanently," Colton added.
Currently, there is a combined 8.625% sales tax, made up by both state and city taxes, levied upon all clothing items during the non-exemption period. The city government adopted the same measure as the state to create two separate periods of sales tax exemptions.
The lawmaker signed onto a letter circulated by fellow colleague, Assemblymember Matthew Mirones (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), urging the Governor to permanently reinstate the state sales tax exemption for clothing items costing less than $110. "I am humbled by the fact that we, as an elected body, can come together across party lines and place the interests of people above partisan politics," stated Colton.
"The fact of the matter is many shoppers leave New York City to escape the sales tax and end up shopping in New Jersey. In effect, this tax deeply hurts New York’s retail clothing stores and leaves them at a competitive disadvantage. Not to mention, this tax is regressive and places an undue burden upon low/middle-class working families. Therefore, we must all work together, get people and businesses involved, and demand that the Governor levels the playing field for New York’s businesses and stop digging deeper into the pockets of New Yorkers," charged the legislator.
The Assemblymember also notes that many businesses are forced to hire extra help during the two sales tax-free weeks due to the increased volume of shopping. However, immediately following the tax exemption weeks, these workers are laid off as the volume of shopping decreases. "The current policy disturbs a delicate balance that businesses depend upon to operate smoothly," said Colton. "It is both unfair to store owners and employees who get laid off after the sales tax-free weeks are over," asserted the state lawmaker.
Assemblymember Colton plans to mobilize the community by initiating a petition drive, getting businesses and residents involved, and calling upon the Governor to respond to the needs of New York City’s retail industry and low/middle-class working families. Once the petitions are collected, Colton plans to send them to the Governor’s office.